THE AMERICAN LAFRANCE AERO CHIEF PROJECT
This website is the result of a twelve year project to document the production and history of the American LaFrance Aero Chief. The Aero Chief was introduced in 1962 and continued in production until 1974. 171 Aero Chief platforms were built. It came in three sizes: 70', 80', and 90'. Most Aero Chiefs were built on the custom American LaFrance chassis, but there were several built on various commercial chassis. Many of them had pumps and even more had tandem rear axles.
The photos on this site come from a variety of sources. I have photgraphed 65 of them, but the remainder come from many other photographers, including Glenn Vincent, Mike Martinelli, Scott Berringer, Kevin McKeon, Garry Kadzielawski, Bill Friedrich, Don Feipel, Bill Hattersley, Paul Barrett, Scott Mattson, John Floyd, Al Whitlock, Don Loeb, Dan Decher, Ralph Decker, Jon Umbdenstock, Ron Bogardus, Wayne Sorensen, Chuck Madderom, Richard Bartlett, Dave Stewardson, Ken Wible, John Langley, Todd Lincoln, Dan Jasina, Tom Shepherd, Mark Rzepnicki, Andrew Henry, Mike Bakunis, and a host of others whose names have faded from my feeble memory. If you have sent me photos and you can't find your name, please contact me and it will be immediately corrected. Additional photos came from many of the Fire Departments who owned Aero Chiefs. To all these contributors, I am forever in your debt.
The information on this website will be updated as it becomes available. Any additional information or photos are always welcome. Please contact me through the link at the bottom of this page. Thank you and enjoy!
1963 International VCO-206/ALF Aero Chief 70 from Bartow County, GA
This was the first Aero Chief delivered. The first two Aero Chiefs had a different style boom than later models. The early 70' units used A-Frame outiggers. Originally painted red, it first served Rome, GA until 1982. It was repainted yellow in the early 1970's and then returned to red in the late 1980's. It was retired in 1994 and traded in to the Sutphen dealer in Alabama.
1963 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 70 from Juneau, AK
This was the first Aero Chief with the new style boom that would remain in production until 1974. The outriggers on this rig were later changed to the flop-down style used on later rigs. (Better photo needed)
1962 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 70 from Berkeley, CA
Here is a shot of the original demonstrator rig. It also has the original style boom. Two unique features separate this one from the rest. One is a two piece windshield frame that could open to lower the boom all the way to the dashboard. This allowed the rig to make it's way under low bridges and wires. The other feature was a fully enclosed body, with all equipment stored inside. Introduced at the 1962 I.A.F.C. Convention, it was sold to Berkeley, CA in 1964.
1964 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 70 from Cartersville, GA
This one has quite a history! It began life with the Greece Ridge, NY Fire Department, then it was sold to Odenton, MD. From Odenton, it went to an unknown FD in South Carolina, then went to Cartersville, GA where it served until 1995, when it was traded in to Harless Fire Equipment in Birmingahm, AL.
1964 Ford/ALF Aero Chief 70 from Springvale, ME
The first Aero Chief on a Ford chassis is shown here. This may be the only one ever built on a conventional style chassis. Originally equipped with A-Frame outriggers, it has been upgraded to the flop-down style.
1964 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 90 from Poughkeepsie, NY
This was the first 90' Aero Chief. Outriggers on early 80' and 90' models used a different style A-Frame system that was hinged at the top of the outrigger. This style would swing out from the bottom, then extend toward the ground, giving it a wider stance then the standard A-Frame. After years of service with Poughkeepsie, this one was sold to a painting contractor in Morristown, NJ. It was later scrapped in 1995. (Better photo needed)
1964 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 80 from American River, CA
This one was originally delivered to Arcade, CA and was the first 80' model.
1964 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 70 from Monticello, NY
Originally delivered to Newburgh, NY, this Aero Chief served Monticello, NY before being sold to an unknown location.
1964 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 90 from Syracuse, NY
The history of this Aero Chief is a tragic one. In 1972, it collapsed during firescene operations, due to a hydraulic failure, killing one Firefighter and seriously injuring two others. The boom was replaced by a 100' Seagrave midmount aerial, a closed cab installed, and it was given a yellow paint job. A few years later, it was sold to Southborough, MA and repainted red.
1964 Ford C/ALF Aero Chief 70 from Centreville, MD
For many years it was thought that this was the only Aero Chief built on the ubiquitous Ford C Series chassis. This one was sold to an unknown FD in western Virginia in 1985.
1964 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 80 from Northwest FD, Greenwood, SC
Originally delivered to the Susquehanna Hose Company in Havre De Grace, MD, this Aero Chief 80 later served the Northwest FD in Greenwood, SC and was retired just a few years ago. Instead of traditional compartment doors, a black vinyl cover protects forcible entry tools in the front compartment.
1964 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 80 from San Leandro, CA
An unusual feature of this Aero Chief is that all ground ladders lay flat on the deck. Typically, ground ladders were stored flat on the left side and on beam on the right.
1965 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 70 from Visalia, CA
After Visalia retired their Aero Chief 70, it was sold to Dinuba, CA.
1965 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 80 from Scarsdale, NY
This one was given a complete refurb in the mid-1980's by Ward '79 LTD. It was first owned by Deer Park, NY. This Aero Chief was recenly advertised on Ebay.
1965 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 90 from Palo Alto, CA
The shot of Palo Alto's rig shows the ground ladders stack on the beam on the right side of the rig. It also shows the waterway attached to the boom. Standard piping was 4" but 6" was optional.
1965 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 90 Quint from Alexander City, AL
This was the first Aero Chief quint. It was also the first with tandem rear axles, necessary to carry the added weight of a pump and tank. Originally delivered to Mount Prospect, IL, it was later sold to LaPlace, LA, where it was refurbed with a Century Series cab. From there it went to Alexander City, AL and then, recently, to Dadeville, AL. where it is their first aerial.
1965 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 90 from Paterson, NJ
After serving Paterson for many years, this one was also sold to the painting contractor in Morristown, NJ. I attempted to photograph both in Morristown in 1994, but they had been scrapped only a week before I arrived. (Better photo needed)
1965 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 90 from Peoria, IL
The Peoria rig is significant because it was the first one equipped with the new style outriggers from the factory. The new flop-down style provided a wider stance for the aerial and would soon become standard on all three sizes.
1965 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 80 from Claymont, DE
Although Claymont's fleet is painted white/yellow today, here is proof that it was red at one time, even the Aero Chief boom! At some point, the cab was replaced with an open cab Century Series cab and the rig was repainted white/yellow. This apparatus later served the Volunteer Hose Company in Middletown, DE for many years before being sold to Margate, NJ.
1965 ALF 900 Series Aero Chief 80 from Kingston, Ontario
This Aero Chief is the only one to ever be delivered to Canada. After years of service with the Kingston FD, it was sold to the Kawartha Lakes FD in Ontario. It served at their Omemee-Emily station until it was retired around 2000. In 2004, it was auctioned off to an individual on Manitoulin Island in Ontario.